TV presenter Jeff Brazier is leading the search to find the UK’s best Lunch Spots in conjunction with Kingsmill. Here, the father-of-two talks parenting, charity work, life as a single dad and which celebrities have left him starstruck.
Hi Jeff! What attracted you to this particular Kingsmill campaign?
I'm a father of two and I'm forever making packed lunches. Like all families we enjoy picnics and were always looking for fantastic spots to enjoy our sandwiches.
Why do you think families should get involved?
It's important to share the tips amongst parents, especially on a campaign like this. It's a great opportunity for families to get involved and share their thoughts on great outdoor spaces to lunch!
I know that weather has a big impact on outdoor activities but you can just make sure you bundle up! There are also some great prizes on offer - entrants could win £1,500 worth of holiday vouchers, a contribution to their Big Lunch street party and the top ten Lunch Spot locations will be recognised with a commemorative bench and plaque.
The campaign is asking families to nominate their favourite ‘lunch spots’ – as a child where were your favourite places to picnic or holiday with the family?
Every week I would visit my grandma. She lived in a cottage in Bracknell and it had a really beautiful garden. I remember it being so peaceful and relaxing. We'd sit on a picnic blanket with a sandwich and I'd read a Beano comic book from the 70's that I'd have just picked up from a car boot sale.
Where are Freddie and Bobby’s favourite lunch spots – are there any in particular that you would nominate for the Kingsmill campaign?
Bobby's favourite spot is National Trust spot, Hatfield Forest. It's obviously a really great open space and he loves the fact that it's where he climbs trees.
Freddy's favourite spot is known locally as 'Telly Tubby Hill'. It's in Essex and it overlooks not only the village we live in but a lot of countryside too.
How do you choose which campaigns to get involved with – are there any you’ve had to say no to?
I tend to say no to the ones I don't feel I can give any value to. I'm a single parent and I have to make packed lunches on a daily basis. We're a really active family so I'm always looking for new picnic areas to take the children to. This qualifies me perfectly to talk about the campaign I'm working on with Kingsmill.
Sometimes, parents struggle to keep the kids entertained during half term and other school holidays – can you tell us three fun things that you do with the boys, that other mums and dads should try?
- Bike rides - these are definitely overlooked. If you do it together, it's great exercise and good family time too!
- Parkour (free-running) - The boys really love this activity especially when dad does it with them!
- Outward Bound Centres - The boys really enjoy outdoor activity so this is perfect for them.
A lot of research has come out saying that young children are now more into their gadgets than traditional pastimes like reading – is this evident in your house?
I'm actually very lucky as the children do have a computer but they don't spend a lot of time playing on it. They much prefer playing outdoors and reading.
Last time we spoke to you, you said that charity was an important thing to you – is this rubbing off on Freddie and Bobby at all?
Absolutely! Last year I visited Sri Lanka for a charity event and I definitely think it inspired them. This year the boys have expressed an interest in working with charities such as Grief Encounters and Marie Curie, both of which are close to their hearts.
They've only just completed their own Ice Skating disco and I'm proud to say that they sold all but 13 of the 460 tickets on offer. They also raised over £5,000, which is a phenomenal amount! I’m very proud.
Tell us three important rules that you have instilled into your household for the kids and if/why they work…
Rule one: Affirmations at bedtime - We've got ourselves into a great habit of affirmations at bedtime to make sure they nod off with positive things in mind and over time these positive statements will become a belief.
Rule two: Homework as soon as the boys are home from school - We always make sure that we do our homework as soon as they're in from school. As soon as it's done and out of the way we can focus on having fun!
Rule three: Pick up your towel - Every time without fail, the boys will leave their towel on the floor after they shower. It drives me mad! All I ask now is that they pick up their towel!
You do a variety of work on TV, but you have also been blogging for the Huffington Post for a little while now – has writing become a good way of release for you?
Yes, writing is as much therapy as anything else. I've been writing now for approx three years and I've found that if I have a problem, I've often come up with the solution by the time I’m finished!
What’s more challenging – working on TV or being a full-time dad at home?
There are challenges to both being at home and being at work but being a dad definitely has more important challenges; you're not always right, you do make mistakes but the important thing here is to recognise those mistakes, find a solution and make sure it doesn't happen again.
Have you ever used any of Supernanny’s techniques, if yes, which ones and why?
I've not watched the show for some time but I think we've all been influenced by the naughty step - it's still used in my house. It's a good way to separate two boys - we don't shout in our house, we just use the naughty step as a way to calm down and have some time out.
Are there any celebrity dads that you admire?
I admire David Beckham as a man in general but also as a dad. His children always appear healthy and happy and whilst I imagine that this is as much Victoria's influence as it is his, but he seems like such an amazing parent. Saying that whether you're experiencing Mega-stardom or a single parent were all doing the same juggling act.
What as a parent worries you the most?
There's a long list of worries but social media is something that's sprung to the top of that list recently. Bobby wants to be on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. He had BBM as his nan innocently brought him a blackberry but that didn't work out.
The Privacy Ban will protect them until they're 16 but it does concern me; can I deny them the chance to use social media if they're 13 or 14 years old? Hopefully there will be a compromise in there somewhere.
Do you ever get star struck? Name drop us three of the most famous people you’ve met…
- Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears...
It's impossible not to get star struck and nervous when you interview A-list celebrity but you do have to remember that they're just a normal person with no airs and graces. Although there’s always one that makes you think, 'You can keep your status because you're still a complete doughnut'
Finally, what’s coming up for you, for the rest of the year?
Well, I'll be continuing to work on This Morning and of course I'll be gearing up for the start of the Kingsmill Lunch Spots campaign, which kicks off on 18th March and will run until the end of May this year.
I'm also hoping to cycle across Madagascar later this year. After the success of the boys' charity event, we'll be looking to take part in more charity activities later in the year.
I'm also launching some parenting and fashion content on YouTube so watch this space...
TV presenter and dad-of-two Jeff Brazier is on a mission to find the UK’s favourite Lunch Spots in his role as Kingsmill Lunch Spot ambassador.
Go to www.facebook.com/Kingsmill to nominate your favourite Lunch Spot before 15th April and be in with a chance of winning £1,500 worth of UK holiday vouchers.